I sometime read religious boards and it amazes and disappoints me how much religious zealots and atheist have in common – the absolute and righteous certainty that they at the exclusion of others possess knowledge/revelations that makes them the bearers of the truth.   

Recently on a different Atheist discussion board a lady that had just lost her young daughter wrote about her religious experience and of the comfort she receivers from her faith.  She politely shared her heart breaking story and even offered words of kindness.  The replies were predictably brutal and mocking, barely a shred of compassion for a mother that lost her child.  I made my best to present my atheist point of view to this lady but I did so with respect, compassion and understanding.  I also felt ashamed for my fellow atheists.

I see it here too at nexus, the same hubris and arrogance that at times is such that some individuals proclaim that their philosophies are “my own religion” while others are themselves “…my own religion” and their church is “my flesh and blood”.  Does this sound strangely familiar?  I suppose soon we will have Gods among us. 

Before we all get too heady from over indulging in the advantages of having the weight of evidence in our favor, we should remember that pointing out the irrationality of religion is as-easy-as- shooting-fish-in-a-barrel!  The real challenge is offering something better.

We are no better than those that dismiss us and demean us for being atheist if we dismiss and demean them for being believers. The belittling of others only diminishes us and at the very least makes us as misguided as we see theists to be.

It would serve us all well to remember that before presenting our carefully constructed arguments we could show something very simple – respect – and maybe even modesty.

If you believe that logic and reason offers superior guidance than mysticism and religion then BE the example.   

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Most people think of me as a polite person, but none that know me mistake me for a rug.

Still, I'm glad that you are beginning to see my point. You know you have learned something when you can teach the teacher.
Phil, I'm still waiting to hear your arguments, what are they? Tell me what is your argument for the effectiveness of being rude and condescending. So far no one as actually made any tangible arguments. Go ahead and deconstruct my argument.

Taking refuge among those that agree with you is not an argument. An ass braying by itself or in a chorus still sounds like an ass.
At last a real argument – thank you!

You site Madalyn Murray as an example of the effectiveness of being rude. There is no question that she was rude alright. Her guile did ultimately lead to the end of prayer in schools, which is great. The hard working lawyers that brilliantly argued for the separation of church and state before the Supreme Court deserve some credit no?

BUT, if I recall correctly many of the people involved in that case thought of Madalyn as more of a liability than an asset. In fact some said that she became a setback for the cause of separation of church and state.

She didn’t just become “the most hated woman in America” as Time or Life mag. put it because of the end of school prayer, she was not a very nice person to anyone. In fact she was so rude that she eventually became completely isolated from everyone in her life except her son, a meek man that did as he was told.

So it could be argued that she could have accomplished a lot more if she wasn’t so disagreeable.

The little that I recall of Margaret Sanger, she, as with other women like her, was called rude because she didn’t know her place as a woman. In the early 1900’s women didn’t speak up, she not only spoke up but she spoke up about birth control which was considered immoral and was illegal.

Let’s not mistakes guile and courage with the boisterousness of rudeness.

Oh yes, you wanted examples of polite people who made a difference, Gandhi comes to mind, he wasn’t even rude when being beaten. MLK believed very strongly in a personal ethic of values like empathy, civility, etc. Even Malcolm X before his death came around to seeing things more like MLK than the young Malcolm.

Many of the great Greek philosophers and writers of the enlightenment period also believed very strongly in a civil society ruled by reason.

I don’t think they would have strong been proponents of advancement through ridicule and mockery – I think that was what they had to contend with.
The only sad aspect of atheism is the failure of reason and logic to persuade atheists that they should strive to better human beings.

score here is John D 2, Miguel 0

I didn’t see this as a game but I’m glad that your team has won yet another victory in the fantasy land where your superiority exists.

“what has anyone like this done for ATHEISTS? Nothing!”

Anyone that improves the human condition does so for theists and atheists alike.

It is true that leaders of social movements only become perceived as moderate only when compared to more radical movements. This was true of MLK and Malcolm X. However, you confuse the courage of taking a radical position with the artlessness of behaving like a yokel.

On a more personal note: I was initially enthused by your initial post, the issue of Malcolm X vs. MLK’s approach – I thought, would be a way to have a constructive discussion about what I think is at the heart of the matter – the vehement defense of one’s views in the face of an hostile majority AND the ways this can be done.

Too bad you could not resist the emotional gratification of personal insults.
Miguel, I speak from direct experience here. On at least three occasions, I've dealt with religious proselytizers who came to my door. In two cases, they were dismissed with a comment no more loaded than "I think I'll pass." The third I have related to you and the incident is recorded in my blog.

For the large portion, I have no problem in being civil. That presumes that the other side of the equation is willing to be equally civil and respect my point of view. If they wish to get crass or comport themselves after a superior attitude, I have no problem ripping them and their arguments from stem to stern with no apology offered. I've said this repeatedly and I will repeat: I do not start fights; I FINISH THEM. Religionists who wish to paint themselves in some self-justified, sanctimonious color will find me adding new shades to their palates.

I will NOT be disrespected, nor will I shrink back and purvey some meek, tidy, self-effacing attitude so that atheism as a whole is perceived in a "safe" light. If they want to play politely, I'm glad to be polite. If they want to play hardball, I'll be glad to teach them the game, and I won't be gentle about it.

It's worth keeping in mind that most religionists have no respect for us as it is. I know I surprised that quartet of JW's who arrived in my driveway a couple months back when I received them with a smile and without rancor. As I said in my post, I have little to gain by being combative, as I wish to stay here a while and wish to remain on good terms with my neighbors. HOWEVER ... I will NOT compromise myself for their sake, and if they wish to play dirty, they'll discover to their sorrow my intimate understanding of such a game.

Boil it down, it's THEIR choice.
I agree. Civility is much easier on the digestion and general health than hostility and I always seek that path. However, when they persist with their proselytizing and won't accept a polite dismissal then I become somebody they want to get away from.
I have often been accused of arrogance not because I was being lofty and dismissive but because I was right and could prove it. What I find offensive is ignorant arrogance.
My son in laws father, a good friend of mine, now deceased, was a minister. We never had harsh words and we knew what each other's opinion was and discuss them at length - we were friends because we were civil.
Somehow I'm reminded of something my ol' man always liked to say,

"If she leaves you on the floor, in the middle of the song,
You can bet, by gawd, that you rubbed 'er wrong!"

I guess I've managed to rub a few people wrong myself, though it happens to everyone sooner or later - at one time or another - unless you're dead.

In all fairness to Miguel, I think we've all been witness - at one time or another - to totally inappropriate responses, in certain situations.

In fairness to the rest of us, Miguel, it's real hard to 'own' these discussions. Once they get going, they take on a life, and sometimes a direction, of their own. You want to always bring a sense of humor to the table, in order to meet the sense of humor being expressed by others.

You can't say this thread hasn't been a success - you got people talking! :)
Addendum -

The main thing I'm trying to say, Miguel, is that if people take the time to give you a chance, and try to get to know you, (ie participate in your discussion) don't shit in your own bowl of wheaties and run everyone off, by trying to scold your audience. I'm bettin' it doesn't work for you in any other areas of your life either.

BTW, Kind of ironic, the name of the post, when you get right down to it.
Miguel Fernandes: These are the arguments made by an obstinate child - not the arguments made by adults whose self-proclaimed reasoning and logic make them superior to theists.... I wonder where were the older and wiser atheists?

Rolling their eyes because you're flogging this dead horse that doesn't even have any flesh left on it's carcass.

There is a revolving door here for indignant whiners that keep insisting on raising this subject, without so much as even looking for the dozens of existing threads on the exact same theme.

This episode helps to strengthen my belief that there is no moral imperative to knowledge. “To know the good is to do the good” is an absurdly naïve idea – sorry Socrates and Kant.

Without a guiding ethic, reason and logic become nothing more than another means of self-aggrandizement and of diminishing others no different from even the most irrational ideologies.


Oh, let me bow down and kiss your sneakers. What are you doing now other constructing a pedestal for yourself upon which you can climb and frown down your distaste at us loathsome unwashed masses?

This is the nth iteration of the same old worthless typhos that keeps choking this place up. What is it that you want? For us to go out and find some theists to hug?

Sorry. I'm sure others have already said it, and I have no intention of reading the whole thread, but respect is something that is not freely given, it is earned. When I find theists that deserve respect, I give them respect. But they are rare as hens teeth. The rest I'll treat with the same contempt that I treat most of humanity. In that way I am egalitarian, more so than you. I have no compulsion to lay patronising airs on strangers because I consider them morally defective for being rude to idiots. It's not my fault that 99.9% of theists just happen to be idiots. It's their's. If they choose to cauterise their intellect and deliberately hobble it, that is not something that is respect worthy.

Similarly, I am under no compulsion to have any respect for your meaningless waffle that claims different. You are not the first. You will not be the last. Repeating the same crap over and over does not magically make it not crap.

It’s sad that it failed so measurably.

Yes you have. But in ways you can't even begin to comprehend.
I feel sad for her loss. But, posting about your faith and religious experience giving you comfort on an Atheist site is an open invitation to disaster. We all know that. Don't push it.

I don't blame her nor the other posters. She was feeling distraught and posting that faith thingy was simply putting herself in the line of fire.

And, yes as Felch put it, these worthless typhos keep choking this place up. They just keep coming back.
So? I was talking about Miguel's other pompous comments throughout the thread. If I didn't know better, I would think he was a theist mole trying to incite atheist "intolerance" to show his god freak pals. Theists have snuck in here before peddling the same gibberish arguments.

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